Bunch of misfits comprised the Seahawks expansion team

Published on April 12, 2011 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

An eclectic ‘bunch of misfits’ comprised the Seahawks’ expansion team and didn’t win much, but Zorn-to-Largent set the stage for what was to come.

They came from every possible avenue: Veteran allocation draft; college draft; free agents; trades; castoffs from other NFL teams.

What this eclectic collection of players comprised was the Seahawks’ inaugural team in 1976.

“We were quite a group,” recalls Jim Zorn, the left-handed quarterback for the Left Coast expansion team. “Some of the guys on that team didn’t want to be here. Some of them probably didn’t belong here. But that was our team.”

1976 IN REVIEW
Record: 2-12 (fifth in the NFC West)

Owner: Nordstrom family (majority owners)

Coach: Jack Patera

Captains: OT Norm Evans (off.), LB Mike Curtis (def.), LB Ed Bradley (ST)

MVP: QB Jim Zorn

Man of the Year: Evans

Leading passer: Zorn (208 of 429 for 2,571 yards, with 12 TDs and 27 interceptions)

Leading rusher: Sherman Smith (537 yards)

Leading receiver: Steve Largent (54 receptions for 705 yards)

Leading tackler: FS Dave Brown (111)

Interception leaders: Brown and CB Rolly Woolsey (four each)

Sack leader: DT Steve Niehaus (9½)

Leading scorer: K John Leypoldt (43 points)

Pro Bowl selections: None

National honors: Zorn, NFC offensive rookie of the year; Niehaus, NFC defensive rookie of the year

The very-first Seahawks team, which played its games in the concrete-topped wonder that was the Kingdome for a no-nonsense Bud Grant protégé of a coach – Jack Patera.

It wasn’t quite 1776 in terms of historical essence, but don’t try telling that to the NFL-starved fans of the Pacific Northwest.

“We only won two games that first year,” said Zorn, now quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. “But you would have thought we almost went to the playoffs. That’s how enthusiastic not only we were, but the fans were.

“Everybody was excited.”

Even if everybody didn’t exactly know everybody else’s name.

The faces surrounding Zorn in those first huddles were a muddled collection that included a future Hall of Fame wide receiver (Steve Largent); a college QB who was learning to play running back, and doing it at the NFL level (Sherman Smith); and a line comprised of a rookie (center Art Kuehn) and veterans obtained in the allocation draft (tackles Norm Evans and Nick Bebout and guards Bob Penchion and John Denmarie).

“The very first game, I didn’t even know some of the running backs names,” Zorn said. “I’d say, ‘Hey, No. 44 (Ralph Nelson), you’re behind me.’

“It was wild. It was just wild.”

On defense, it was a variation on the same disjointed theme – a mix of rookies (tackle and first-round draft choice Steve Niehaus) and veterans from other teams (linebackers Mike Curtis and Ed Bradley and free safety Dave Brown). Brown (111), Curtis (107) and Bradley (101) were the leading tacklers, while Niehaus produced 8½ sacks in the 14-game season en route to being named NFC defensive rookie of the year.

What the original Seahawks lacked in victories, and cohesiveness, they compensated for with a little flash and a little dash – especially on offense, where coordinator Sam Boghosian and QB/receivers coach Jerry Rhome played to the strengths of their players.

Which was Zorn-to-Largent, 54 times.

“Jim was a perfect fit for that offense, because of his ability to throw on the run and being a mobile quarterback,” said Smith, who now coaches the Seahawks’ running backs on coach Pete Carroll’s staff.

“That offense fit him, and he fit that offense.”

Both the Seahawks’ wins came in a four-game span at midseason – 13-10 in Tampa over the expansion Buccaneers, as Curtis blocked as field goal 42 seconds remaining; and 31-13 over the Atlanta Falcons at the Kingdome, as Smith became the Seahawks’ first 100-yard rusher (124). Other than that, the defense surrendered at least 30 points seven times – including 51 in a Week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints; while the offense generated more than 20 only five times.

But it didn’t seem to matter, to the fans or the players.

“Looking back, that’s what I’m most proud of – just to be part of a new franchise,” said Zorn, who was named NFC offensive rookie of the year and continued to quarterback the Seahawks for the next 6½ seasons.

“With the expansion draft and the way some others got to the team, we were a bunch of misfits, really, that didn’t necessarily fit into any one program. But we kind of made our own program.”

While making history in the process.

1976: The NFL comes to Seattle.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (1)

  1. Dale Barter says:

    It was excting that yr. as I became a season ticket holder and mt wife and I would enjoy the pregame brunch at one of the venues in Pioneer sq. It was especially fun to watch Steve Largent get his cover man completly turned around on his pass routes!!!!!!!!!




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

tempcst_K2V8670--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Seahawks Receivers room is packed full

It’s getting crowded on the sidewalk. After fighting off the label of being a “pedestrian” group last season, the ...
HPv9A.AuSt.5

Youth not a burden for Pete Carroll

When the NFL draft lights go out, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll picks up the phone. Just thinking about ...
1cdoa9.AuSt.5

Seahawks draft for the 2 P’s: passion, perseverance

Last week, coach Pete Carroll came up with the term “gritty” to describe the kind of player the ...
AP167044948598-480x319

Seahawks take fullback Kiero Small with their final draft pick

The Seahawks used pick No. 229 to draft Arkansas fullback Kiero Small in the seventh round. Get this: Small ...
c3502f36-4f0b-4f27-9327-c4b03b0fdd9a_800

Richardson: ‘I figured it out when the general manager called me’

Here’s what Paul Richardson had to say: (On where is he at right now….) “I’m California right now with ...
7efb6d24-c022-4fd8-ae10-2f3bcaf8d8b7_800

Britt: ‘If nasty is the word you want to use, then I’m nasty’

Here’s what new Seahawks lineman Justin Britt, whom Tom Cable said will compete right away at right tackle ...
140508schneider600

Seahawks trade first-round draft choice to Vikings

The Seahawks traded out of the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday ...
140506udfa600

The Seahawks have been very good to rookie free agents

Despite having one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, the Seahawks have become a good ...

Shop for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Champs Merchandise at NFLShop.com

Shop for Conference Champs and Super Bowl XLVIII Match Up Merchandise at NFLShop.com

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz